Tag Archives: Nuclear threat

General consideration

The entire North Korean “rocket-nuclear scientific &production system” consists of the following elements (according to the data which I managed to assemble from many sources):

– Several thousand units of modern Chinese metal-processing equipment (machine tools etc., are mostly obtained through “underground channels”, generally, without Beijing’s knowledge).

– Serving these machines are the mechanics that have basic qualification (very poorly paid, half-starved) as well as several hundred researchers, engineers, and technologists, also of average quality and poorly paid.

– Some amount of gas-diffusion centrifuges for the production of enriched uranium (but, evidently, not weapons-grade plutonium, which is necessary to manufacture a compact “light” warhead).

This “scientific-production system” appeared to be PHYSICALLY INCAPABLE of creating independently even a “perfect” Musudan (Hwasong-10) ballistic missile with a combat range of 4000 kilometers (2500 miles). Seven Musudan launches failed out of eight total, according to the information available. Let’s take a look – North Korea has been engaged in Musudan development (reverse engineering of the Soviet R-27 missile) for 27 years, starting in 1989. And all it has to show for it is such a bleak outcome, which by itself provides a perfect estimation of North Korean “rocket-nuclear scientific & production system” with real (very low) capabilities!

In 2017, North Korea successfully tested Hwasong-12, Hwasong-14, and Hwasong-15 ballistic missiles with higher capabilities than Hwasong-10. And I have no doubts that these three missiles are built from spare parts and even blocks received from “outer space.” Specifically, where did they come from?

Definitely, they did not come from China. The “divorce process” between China and North Korea continued for many more years and was over by the end of 2016. China is very tired of North Korea’s tricks and, for sure, has nothing in common with Pyongyang adventurism.

Could the source be Ukraine? August 15 -17, 2017, directly after publishing the “notorious article” in New York Times on August 14, Ukrainian leaders and space-missile expert proposed to the West to inspect the Ukrainian plants and design bureaus in any possible way, so no suspicion would remain regarding the alleged “ties” between Kiev and Pyongyang.

Could the technology have come from Iran? Iran would have given these technologies to North Korea, however, Iran itself has nothing beyond ballistic missiles with a combat range between 2500 km to 3000 km. By the way, they have been developed with the use of North Korean and Russian technology.

Maybe, North Korea merely stole the key technologies for the new ballistic missiles? Indeed, during the last 20 years, North Korea managed to steal a lot for the purpose of Musudan missile development. Still, in practical terms, these thefts did not advance this project. And it would be silly to consider these thefts a serious factor in the framework of new missiles development projects.

The unavoidable conclusion is as follows: Russia, the only major ally of Pyongyang in “outer world”, providing systematic, persistent and comprehensive assistance to North Korea in the framework of the development of Hwasong-12, Hwasong-14, and Hwasong-15 missiles. And this became the decisive factor.

Let’s consider the entire situation in “digital way”. Let’s take “technological difficulty” related to the development of a “perfect Musudan” missile as 100. Then it appears that North Korea’s “missile scientific and production system” completed somewhat 90% of required work and, consequently, was capable, by 2017, of accomplishing projects with “technological difficulty (later TD) of ~90.

Hwasong-12 has a combat range of 5000 km, 25% greater than Hwasong-10 (Musudan), so its TD can be estimated as ~125.

Hwasong-14 has a more sophisticated engine in its first stage (instead of one-stage Hwasong-10 and Hwasong-12) and a second stage, namely, Hwasong-13 missile. Above all, Hwasong-12 has a combat range of 10,000 km. And it is possible to estimate Hwasong-14 TD as at least 300.

Finally, Hwasong-15 is more sophisticated than the Hwasong-14 missile, has two engines inside its first stage and its combat range is as great as 15,000 km. So, it is possible to estimate Hwasong-14 TD as at least 500.

Eventually, it is necessary to recognize that “foreign side” (namely, Russian side) accomplished at least 80% of necessary work in Hwasong-15 R&D and production. That’s it.


Estimations of three renowned experts on August 11-14

Let’s start with a quote from a statement by a top-rank German missile scientist Dr. Robert Scmucker on August 9, for Deutsche Welle (German Wave) channel. (www.dw.com/de/robert-schmucker-nordkorea-baut-allein-keine-raketen/a-40027158, 08.09.17) (“Who provided Hwasong-14 technology for North Korea?”  Interview with Mikhail Bushuyev; translation from German, abbreviated):

“The vast majority (of North Korean missiles) are old Russian rockets that have a specific (Russian/Soviet) technology. The new rockets (North Korean) that have been launched in the past twelve to 14 months have completely new technology. But we see engines that are clearly Russian engines. The connection to Russia is not only about the early Russian missiles, but also about the current ones, at least for the engines. North Korea has presented seven different rockets in the past 14 months. How is that possible? The effort for seven different rockets requires seven different project teams, manufacturing equipment for the different caliber rockets, different materials, fuels, materials, and sizes. There is an infinite number of tools, machines, and regulations needed. It’s a huge hassle to do it all in parallel and then succeed at the first shot. Nobody has done that yet unless the rocket came from somewhere else…”

In short, all the technologies for Hwasong-12, Hwasong-15 and several more new “North Korean” missiles are from Russia, and the necessary funding for their R&D and production is from Russia as well. I and Dr.Schnucker came to the same conclusion.

Then came the article in “Bulletin of atomic scientists” published by Dr.Schnucker, his colleague and employee of “Schmucker Technologie Co.” Marcus Shiller and MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Professor Emeritus Theodore Postol. All three (and probably Dr.Shiller also) are ‘superstars’ in both missile and nuclear technologies.

“The newest Russian rocket motor we have identified in North Korean arsenal, derived from the RD-250/251 and used in (Hwasong-12 and Hwasong-14 missiles, is not from Russian) Makeyev Design Bureau, but from an entirely different major rocket motor manufacturer, NPO Energomash, which supported the OKB-456 Design Bureau in the Soviet Union. This rocket motor was associated with rocket and space launch vehicles produced in Ukraine. The presence of RD-250/251 rocket components in a new North Korean rocket raises new and potentially ominous questions…”

Finally, on August 14, Dr.Michael Elleman published his report on new North Korean ballistic missiles for London based IISS (International Institute for Strategic Studies). The report claimed that for sure Hwasong-12 and Hwasong-14 used engines RD-250/251 or their close modifications, which North Korea obtained from Russia or Ukraine.

So, based only on these three very important publications, it was possible to conclude that Pyongyang got missile engines and other key technologies (blocks) for Hwasong-12 and Hwasong-14 from Russia (with 90% probability) or from Ukraine (with 10% probability) and from nowhere else. So, let’s forget about the “independent development” of these missiles.

However, after energetic rebuke by Ukraine leaders and experts after the publication of the notorious article in New York Times on August 14, the probability of “Ukraine source” fell to somewhat 1%, while the probability of “Russian source” increased to ~99%. Simultaneously it became understandable that the publishing of a New York Times article was…sophisticated Moscow provocation (its authors should answer several unpleasant questions).  And expert Elleman himself had to give up his claim regarding “Ukrainian track in recent North Korean missile achievements”.

The nature and, partly, mechanism of this provocation is revealed in the article “ Ukraine Provide Rocket Engines to North Korea For Its Nuclear Missile Program?”  By Nolan Peterson.


Latest developments

On November 29 North Korea successfully launched its newest missile Hwasong-15. Almost instantly, Michael Elleman published his new comment. The essence of this comment is as follows: “No doubts, major technologies and blocks of Hwasong-15 came from abroad. And this missile is extremely dangerous for USA.”

A little bit later, in December 2017, the New York Times published a new big article on North Korean missiles: “North Korean Leader’s Heroes: His Rocket Scientists”. The authors of this article had nothing to do with two authors of notorious publication on August 14, 2017. The most remarkable here was the quote of Professor Postol statement:

“North Korea had this fantastic record (in 2017) for flying rockets the first time and having them succeed. We think it’s because they had rocket motors and their designs that were basically Russian designs, and they had the expertise of Russian engineers who knew how to solve the problems.”

That’s enough, I think. If one was to use these two last publications as a basis, only one possible conclusion is left: Moscow provided everything, including money, for the success of Hwasong-12, Hwassong-14, and Hwasong-15 missiles.

But maybe even these statements and facts are not entirely convincing? Then look at all these North Korea supporting statements and actions of Vladimir Putin and his close retinue (for example, speaker of “Russian Senate” Valentina Matvienko) during the second half of 2017.



On October 25, 2017, a commission of Josh Gottheimer and Francis Rooney started working in U.S. House of Representatives. The goal of this Commission is to find “the foreign sources” of North Korean “missile-nuclear achievements”.

According to the author’s humble opinion, the Commission should ASAP get an inquiry from three experts mentioned above: Robert Schmucker, Michael Elleman, and Theodore Postol. The author himself is eager to make a statement before the Commission.

And it is necessary to do it swiftly, before February 2, 2018, when Congress intends to initiate the package of new, very strict financial sanctions against Putin and his oligarchs. It is probable that Moscow and Pyongyang are preparing a new very dangerous provocation.

The deeper Russia plunges into its current morass of economic, social, and political problems, the more sophisticated is its art of manipulating Western minds with esoteric ploys. It conveys the message that “without us, you cannot address the challenges you face” while at the same time creating or enhancing these very same challenges itself for its own corrupt interests.

It was back in 2013 that the Kremlin’s propaganda and its agents of influence first used the mantra “you’d better be good and cooperate with us, or else terrorists will continue to attack you” when the Tsarnaev brothers fashioned crude explosive devices out of pressure cookers to bomb the Boston marathon.  American prosecutors, journalists, and politicians haven’t bothered to probe for the truth about the Tsarnaevs.  In fact, “The Boston bomber was armed a long time ago.” Before he committed his act of terrorism, the elder Tsarnaev in 2012 spent eight months in Russia, all the while closely monitored by the FSB.  Although the Russian security agency in its correspondence with their U.S. counterparts assessed this young Chechen as an Islamist, Tsarnaev traveled to Russia via Moscow’s main airport, Sheremetyevo, without being held up.  He would never have done so without being sure he could travel there safely. Most likely he was visiting his friends and handlers, who would eventually send him back to the U.S. for his meeting with destiny.

The Boston tragedy has opened a new chapter in the history of the Kremlin’s psychophysical impact on the Western establishment and society. Instead of sporadic ad hoc active measures, Kremlin operators have developed and activated an emotionally loaded concept of systemic zombification of the West.

Post-Boston, and following every major terrorist attack in the U.S., France, Germany, and Great Britain, Moscow has sent the message “You either cooperate with us, or terrorist bombings will continue on the streets of your cities.”

The notorious Russian propagandist Sergei Markov spelled out just what Moscow means by  “cooperation”: “The conflict between Russia and the West over Ukraine should be immediately halted. The gang that came to power in Kiev should be replaced with a technocratic government, the Ukrainian Constitution should be amended, and the neo-Nazis should be removed.  The dictatorship in Kiev is one of the main obstacles for the joint U.S.-EU-Russia’s fight against terrorism.”

After the terrorist massacre in Paris, Russian Ambassador to the E.U. Vladimir Chizhov complained that “unfortunately, one terrorist attack in Paris might not suffice to give European leaders the correct consciousness and strategic vision”, and even Russian Prime-Minister Medvedev clearly stated that the terrorist attacks in the EU and the rest of the world are occurring because the West is trying to isolate Russia.

What the Kremlin is offering the West is protection against future terrorist attacks – but with a caveat.  It is an open secret that Moscow has a network of agents among jihadis and has a certain influence on their leadership.  This network is made up by people recruited by the KGB back when the Soviet Union supported “national liberation movements,” as well as by former Iraqi military officers trained in the USSR (who became the backbone of ISIS), and by a new generation of warriors from the Northern Caucasus and other regions of Russia willing to die for Allah.  The FSB provided the latter group Russian passports and helped them reach the Middle East.

This caveated “cooperation” touted by the Kremlin, in essence, amounts to a new “Yalta” agreement:  recognition of delineated spheres of influence and of Moscow’s exclusive rights over former Soviet republics. The West is to be intimidated, cajoled, and corrupted to the point that it ceases support for breakaway republics (such as Georgia and Ukraine) and escorts them back into the zone of the Russian kleptocracy’s privileged interests.

These are the goals of the hybrid World War Four declared by President Putin against the West and his stated terms of surrender.  To come to power, Putin went to the extent of blowing up apartment buildings in Moscow and other Russian cities in 1999.  To convey to Americans the urgency of this “cooperation” with the Kremlin, Putin and his FSB Director Alexander Bortnikov dispatched the elder Tsarnaev brother back to the U.S.

The Obama’s administration was aware of the Boston terrorist attack’s circumstances but refused to face the truth since it was too frightening and implied very serious consequences.

The next Kremlin’s operation pursued the goal of bringing to the White House the candidate willing to repeat incessantly: “We need Russians to fight Islamic terrorism together.” The resounding success of this operation turned into a disastrous failure for the Kremlin. Its masterminds failed to understand the U.S. political system and its multilayered system of checks and balances.  It was a Pyrrhic victory: any hint of pandering to Russia by the new administration met a fierce resistance of the American establishment.

Congress almost unanimously endorsed “An Act to Counter Aggression by the Governments of Iran, the Russian Federation, and North Korea,” and on August 2, President Trump reluctantly signed it.  Essentially, this legislation outlawed the entire Russian leadership as a criminal group and froze all its loot pillaged in Russia that had been stashed in the U.S.  FinCEN was tasked with identifying all assets of the Russian ruling elite in the U.S., starting with Putin. Once these results are presented to the public, the Anti-Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crimes Acts will be applied to these assets and their owners. If and when this occurs, it will radically transform U.S. relations with the Putin kleptocracy.

It seemed like a breakthrough in the World Hybrid War: no new “Yalta” is looming on the horizon, while the noose of sanctions, which implies among other things the forfeiture of “Putin’s Trillion,” is tightening on the neck of the Kremlin kleptocracy.  To change the dynamics of the game Putin, played his newest card: his Excellency, Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the United States of America, Four Star General Anatoly IvanovichAntonov (who was included on the sanction lists of EU, Ukraine, and Canada for Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine.)

Ambassador Antonov was sent to crank up the level of political blackmail.  His task is to coerce his new country of residence to “Yalta” and to dissuade it from touching Kremlin slush funds. Apparently, he will not fall back on the old tsarnaevesque boogeymen of terrorists with IEDs. His argument will be the threat of nuclear apocalypse in the U.S.

In his remarks to the World Affairs Council in San-Francisco on November 29, and at Stanford University December 1, the Russian Ambassador touted Moscow’s influence on the North Korean leadership, asserting repeatedly that without Russia’s assistance, the U.S. won’t be able to protect itself against the North Korean nuclear threat.

“Russia is a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council and the world’s second-largest nuclear power. We are ready to offer our assistance in negotiations with the DPRK, as we too are concerned about the growing nuclear potential of North Korea. Likewise, we can help the United States in its fight against ISIS, and in regulating Iran’s nuclear program.”

There is no question, but that Moscow has a great deal of influence on Pyongyang. President Putin tirelessly lobbied for the North Korean nuclear missile program on the world stage: “they would rather eat grass then give up their program.” With each new leap of the North Korean missile/nuclear progress, experts have ever diminishing doubts about Russia’s crucial role in this Pyongyang’s astonishing progress.

The new Kremlin operation is an improved rerun of the Cuban Missile Crisis scenario. Unlike 55 years ago, Russia is today in a much better situation, since it bears no responsibility for its latest ‘nuclear offshore,’ but it is offering the U.S. its magnanimous assistance – for a price, of course.  Back in 1962, JFK declared any nuclear missile launched from Cuba against… the United States [will require] a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union.”

At that time, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev did not have the chutzpah to respond in the manner of, “We are ready to offer you our assistance in negotiations with Cuba, as we too are concerned about the growing Cuban nuclear potential.”

Last week Putin lavishly praised President Trump’s achievements in his first year in office. Trump immediately called him back to express his gratitude.  Putin aptly used the opportunity to repeat the offer of Russia’s potential contribution to solving the North Korean nuclear crisis, which his ambassador had already delivered in California.  As a former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper succinctly stated: “Putin is a great case officer, and he knows how to handle an asset and that’s what he’s doing with the President.”

General picture of the “North Korean crisis

In 2016 and, especially since the beginning of 2017, our world has become much more unstable. One of the most destabilizing factors has been a sharp increase in the nuclear-missile potential of North Korea (DPRK). More precisely, the following has happened:

  • The number of nuclear devices (warheads) at the disposal of the “Juche regime” increased from 6-8 units in January 2015 to 8-10 units in January 2016, and to 10-20 units in January 2017 (according to the very authoritative SIPRI – Stockholm International Peace Research Institute). Still, by August 2017, this estimate has grown “by a single leap forward” to 40-60 units (according to the Defense Intelligence Agency and other structures in the U.S. intelligence community). This fact was first reported on August 8 by The Washington Post, known by its reliable sources. In general, the power of these devices does not exceed 10-15 kilotons of TNT (roughly the size of the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima).
  • At least one nuclear weapon at the disposal of North Korean leaders reached a power of about 150 kilotons and its parameters corresponds to that of a hydrogen bomb. The test of this bomb on September 3, 2017 had very broad resonance in the world and especially in the USA. It is highly possible that by the end of September 2017 the “Juche” regime had several more nuclear weapons of the similar power.
  • For several decades (at least since 1989), the DPRK has been developing an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) called Hwasong-10 with a radius of approximately 4,000 km, based largely on technology obtained from the USSR. A number of Hwasong-10 tests in April 2016 – February 2017 were mostly unsuccessful and demonstrated very limited technological capabilities of the DPRK in this area.
  • All of a sudden, the situation changed dramatically. In May 2017, DPRK successfully tested an IRBM Hwasong-12 with a radius of approximately 5,000 km, capable of reaching the island of Guam and Alaska. Two more successful tests of Hwasong-12 – namely unprecedented brazen “flights over Japan” – took place on August 29 and September 15, 2017. Moreover, quite tellingly, until April 2017 no one in the world, outside of the DPRK, had a slightest idea of Hwasong-12 existence.
  • Furthermore, in July of 2017 the DPRK successfully tested the intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) Hwasong-14 with a radius of at least 10,000 km twice. This missile can cover almost the entire continental part of the United States. Again, until July 2017 no one outside the DPRK knew anything about the missile.

Using mathematical terminology,  the North Korean nuclear-missile sector experienced  an exponential growth in 2017. Using biblical terms, one can recall Beast-of-the-Sea from Apocalypse. This Beast-of-the-Sea would suddenly appear at the time of the universal catastrophe and take control over the dying world.

We can see four such Beasts-of-the-Sea almost instantly emerging out of nowhere: the triple increase in the number of nuclear devices in the DPRK’s storage facilities during eight months of this year; the arrival and successful testing of North Korean “hydrogen” bomb; three successful Hwasong-12 IRBM tests, and twice successfully tested Hwasong-14 ICBM. That’s some black magic!

I became seriously engaged in the study of this “magic” in mid-August 2017 – after reading an interview of a prominent German missile designer Robert Schmucker with online “Deutsche Welle” newspaper on August 9 2017 about the “fat Russian trail” in the North Korean nuclear-missile program. In particular, Professor Schmuker noted, that Pyongyang has used a fundamentally new technology in recent missile tests. He indicated that the DPRK would have to utilize giant resources for new missiles development from scratch.

As an engineer creating missiles through his entire career, Dr. Robert Schmucker noted that the designer needs a certain number of missile prototypes to be launched and their trajectories to be measured; conclusions to be made based on these launches, errors corrected, ballistic tables compiled, etc. Without numerous unsuccessful tests, a successful launch of a missile is impossible.   We have not seen anything of this, the prominent missile expert stressed. And he believes that it is impossible to conceal such works, since “North Korea is under constant surveillance”.

“The costs for these projects would have to be enormous, you would need seven project teams, several factories to produce the missiles of different diameters, they’d need various materials, fuel, etc. Developing these projects concurrently and, at the same time, making sure practically all the launches, including the first ones, are successful? This is impossible for anybody; the only plausible explanation: these missiles came from outside,” – the expert concluded.

Where did the engines come from? 

Since August 2017, Russian state media has been “helpfully” offering various versions that would explain “clear and simple” the North Korean nuclear-missile “miracles”:

  • DPRK received the production technologies for RD-250 missile engines and similar engines from Ukraine, from the Yuzhmash plant and Yuzhnoye design bureau, where the RD-250 engines have been produced for several decades, until 2001. “Just the modifications of the RD-250 have been used in the North Korean Hwasong-12 and Hwasong-14 missiles!”
  • The DPRK received a significant part of the new nuclear-missile technologies from China.
  • North Korea has independently mastered new nuclear missile technology. “They’ve tried for so many years, and finally they succeeded!”
  • Iran has rendered very substantial assistance to the DPRK in the development of nuclear- missile technology.

Elleman, the author of the IISS report cited in The New York Times story, later took to Twitter to walk back the quote attributed to him in The New York Times in which he said the engines more likely came from Ukraine than Russia. “Let me be clear about DPRK’s source of ICBM engine: Yuzhnoye is one of several possible sources, there are other potentials in Russia,” Elleman wrote on Twitter. “I don’t believe Ukr gov’t condoned or knew, if the engines were sourced in Ukr. To the contrary, Ukr arrested North Koreans in 2012!” Elleman wrote on Twitter.

Of course, all this does withstand any criticism, especially the fabrications about the possible complicity of Ukraine.  However, on August 14, 2017 The New York Times published an article by Michael Elman, an expert at the London-based International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS). The article claimed that most likely North Korean agents purchased several RD-250 missile engines, as well as technologies for manufacturing these and similar engines” on the black market” during the “troubled times” of 2014-2015 in Ukraine.  At the same time, Elman did not rule out that North Korea could buy RD-250 engines and corresponding technologies in Russia in Ukraine, also on the black market. Elman ruled out any direct participation of the government of Ukraine as well as the government of Russia.

The Russian media eagerly picked up the “Ukrainian component” of the article in The New York Times, while the “Russian component” has been completely ignored.

And in Ukraine? Representatives of the Yuzhmash plant stated: “Missiles and military-use missile systems have not been produced and are not being produced at Yuzhmash since Ukrainian independence”.  Top leaders of Ukraine and its military experts categorically rejected Michael Elman’s conclusions. Through Yelchenko, Ukrainian envoy to the UN, they suggested that United Nations and US top leadership should conduct a thorough investigation of the problem, namely, whether Ukraine has anything to do with the new North Korean missile technologies and whether there has been any missile technology leakage from Ukraine.

FOR THE REFERENCE: engines RD-250, the modifications of which are used in Hwasong-10, Hwasong-12, Hwasong-14 missiles, have been developed by Energomash Group in Khimki, near Moscow, but their manufacturing had been transferred to Yuzhmash plant in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine back during Soviet times. There they have been used for installation in Satan R-36 ICBMs until 1991. After that, until 2001, these engines have been manufactured in Ukraine for usage in Russian Cyclone space missile carriers.  At this time in Ukraine, all RD-250 engines have been accounted for.  And in Russia, according to Ukrainian experts, there are up to 20 Cyclone missile carriers and up to 80 RD-250 engines, as well as proper documentation and expertise. Obviously, in the case of an international investigation experts will have to investigate just these engines.

Already by the end of August, the United States representative in the UN Nikki Haley and senior US State Department officials stated firmly: “Ukraine has a very good track record in the prevention of leakage of missile technologies and other dangerous technologies”. They also said that NY Times article and similar allegations against Ukraine are baseless and will not affect the US decision to provide Ukraine with lethal weapons in any way. This was brief and clear.

So, perhaps, was it China helping the DPRK?  It is ridiculous. China is absolutely not interested in strengthening of its eastern neighbor and, at least since 1992, has not supplied the DPRK with any weapons.  By the way, as of September 2017, relations between the DPRK and China have fallen very low, while relations between the DPRK and Russia were growing rapidly.

What about independent research &development of DPRK itself? Or perhaps Iranian help? North Korea is too weak, economically and technologically, for the “Great Leap Forward” in several directions at once in the nuclear missile sphere described above. And even Iran could help the DPRK in a very insignificant way.

So, who is to blame? Here is a statement by Siemon Wezeman, an expert of authoritative Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), on August 18, 2017 at the UN, which can become the key: “In the supply of missile technology to the DPRK, are involved either Ukraine or Russia.” The former is unlikely, primarily, because Ukraine has no common border with North Korea. A rocket engine is not a needle in a haystack; even disassembled, it is difficult to move across a border unnoticed. With modern monitoring systems, it is hard to believe such transit could occur quietly. Even if it happened, Ukrainian leaders would not demand a public investigation of the case.

Based on the above, Ukraine, which is watched closely, should be taken off the “radar screen”. Then only Russia remains? We have to admit that this is the case.

The Soviet Union had always actively assisted North Korea in the upgrading of its military machine.  Russia “inherited” this support.  In 2014 (according to other sources, in 2012), Putin wrote off 90% of the North Korean debt to Russia, which was about $11 billion. Moreover, when in 2017 China stopped its energy exports – oil and petroleum products – to North Korea, Russia immediately replaced China.

Russia supported North Korea’s nuclear program technologically: since 2015, North Korean specialists have been working at Russian nuclear research facilities. Now in 2017, Russia is providing significantly more serious support to the missile program of North Korea.

In May of 2017, at the very moment when Pyongyang initiated series of successful missile tests (Hwasong-12, Hwasong-14) and was going to test its “hydrogen bomb”, and while the whole world was cutting off their last ties with DPRK, Russia opened a new sea lane between Russian port of Vladivostok and Korean port of Najin (Rajin).  Najin is located about 50 km (appr. 30 miles) southwest of Russian-North Korean border and 120 km (about 75 miles) southwest of Vladivostok. And Najin is quite close to Kusong, the main North Korean missile range. Mon Gyong Bong ship, owned by Russian company registered in North Korea, continuously makes voyages between Vladivostok and Kusun port and, apparently, services Pyongyang missile launches.

Why would Putin involve himself in this new gamble? This is a subject for a separate article.